CHICAGO — The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is offering another hefty reward as they try to identify another armed robber targeting mail carriers in Chicago.
The latest reward, announced Wednesday, offers up to $50,000 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of a man who robbed a postal worker near 99th Street and Seeley Avenue around 2:15 p.m. on June 23.
Postal inspectors released two surveillance images of the man, hoping to drum up leads. Tips can be shared with the agency at 877-876-2455. Refer to case number 4062292.
While the reward bulletin does not say what the men took from the mail carrier, armed robbers have been targeting postal workers for their master keys. Highly organized identity theft and fraud organizations use the stolen keys, called “arrow keys,” to steal large volumes of mail from public mailboxes and residential building mailrooms.
Just last Wednesday, a mail carrier was robbed at gunpoint for their master key in the 2600 block of West Chicago Avenue, according to a CPD report. Four men took the victim’s keys and fled in a stolen Kia.
Postal Inspectors offered another $50,000 reward last month for five men who robbed a postal employee in the 1000 block of North Hamlin. A $10,000 reward is outstanding for information that leads investigators to a group of up to 18 people who burglarized a post office in the old Thompson Center downtown.
Over the holiday weekend, a West Loop resident posted a video to the Ring camera network that showed a man using a master key to open a small bank of mailboxes inside their residential building.
The video shows how easily the keys allow anyone to access credit cards, checks, and personal information that should be kept under lock and key. Watch:
In May, a joint operation involving postal inspectors and Chicago police netted an arrest after investigators allegedly saw a man use an arrow key to steal mail from one of the postal service’s ubiquitous blue mailboxes in the West Loop.
Another man was charged in March with possessing two forged postal service master keys during a traffic stop on the North Side. Prosecutors said the man also had a trove of financial information, including W2 forms and checks.
And prosecutors charged another man in February with burglarizing the mailroom of a single Lakeview apartment building 14 times in nine weeks. Patrick Slagel allegedly admitted to being a “jogger,” the slang term for people who collect bulk mail in theft scams, and to using postal service master keys that were either provided by relatives of USPS employees or were bought or stolen.
“Never put anything into the postal system unless you are comfortable with it landing in the hands of criminals instead of at its intended destination,” an investigative source advised CWBChicago a few months ago.